Startup incubator

What does an incubator do?

Startup incubator

You are looking for a startup incubator. Or you would like to know more about it, for example to quickly develop your company.

We explain to you what the incubators do in the Netherlands, just like in the rest of Europe and worldwide. And does that actually differ from an accelerator program for startups? (

What is an incubator?

A (startup) incubator is a company that helps to start and grow a business. Specific areas of activity are housing, management training and, for example, access to financiers and networks. So are you looking for a way to spread the wings with your startup or new company? An incubator can help you with that.

Please note that an incubator is not the same as a high-tech company site. There are similarities, but there are also some important differences. For example, the incubator is fully focused on start-ups and companies in the first growth phase. Established names can also be found on the sites for high-tech companies, for example with their laboratories.

A (startup) incubator in the Netherlands is more than a multi-company building. It is about more than just housing, for example thanks to access to networks and financiers. In that respect, the Chamber of Commerce also plays a role for some companies, but even they cannot offer the full picture.

Tip: many incubators in the Netherlands have a partnership with the Chamber of Commerce (KvK). This makes it as easy as possible for starters to get off to a good start.

Types of incubators and their role

The (startup) incubator comes in different shapes and types. There are, for example, funded programs in the Netherlands and in the EU in the field of consultancy, mentorship, the realization of prototypes and finding (co-)financing. A good European example of this is the Horizon2020 programme. Within the Netherlands, the MIT scheme is an example, where MIT in Dutch stands for SME innovation stimulation in Region and Top Sectors.

Some of the incubators focus on for example specific (technological) sectors, while others focus on certain business models. In many cases there is a mixed target group, so they work for different companies, sectors and business models. Keep in mind that approximately 40 percent of incubators in the Netherlands focus on (at least) technology companies.

What do the incubators do?

A (Dutch) incubator can offer a number of different services. This often involves the provision of facilities, experience and access to networks. In this way, startups and other new companies overcome the first hurdles in business operations.

So, as a startup, are you looking for space to do business, for financing, legal advice, accountancy or help with ICT and other preconditions? Then it is a good idea to look for an incubator for this. Many of the providers are strong in, for example:

• Help with business issues

• Networking opportunities

• Marketing assistance

• Help with accountancy and financial management

• Assistance in accessing bank loans, funds and guarantee funds

• Develop communication skills

• Linking to higher education

• Linking to strategic partners

• Access to informal investors or venture capital

• Business training

• Composition of the Advisory Board and Mentors

• Putting together management teams

• Clarify (international) business etiquette

• Assistance in commercializing/valorising technology

• Regulatory assistance

• IPR management

Networking: Internationally and within the Netherlands

The incubators form networks, to which you as a startup and company must have access. There is normally a selection process that takes place. In most cases, the business plan in particular is critically examined. Is it a feasible (and scalable) plan? Then that is a good starting point for joining the networks.

Numerous incubators are available both in the Netherlands and internationally in, for example, the EU. Dutch Incubators ( is a good example of an organization that maps out the possibilities and tries to help startups with that.

Keep in mind that the Netherlands in particular still has significant steps to make in this area. Compared to the United States, the world of incubators here is still in its infancy. The Netherlands is not (yet) leading the way within the rest of the EU either. Germany, for example, plays a (very) large role, because no less than 50 percent of the European networks are located there.

Startup incubator

So are you looking for a startup incubator or are you curious whether it is a good choice for your company? It helps you to develop your company in an accelerated way, for example by meeting the various preconditions. Moreover, it can help you to more easily get in touch with financiers and other valuable networks.

Do you feel that you are not yet ready for an incubator (network), but are you looking for opportunities to grow with your company? Then it is worth investigating the possibilities of sharefunding. In this way you raise money from (private) investors. They believe in your mission, ambition and the growth you want to experience. They help you realize the plans with the money, while of course you can also look for more collaborations and partnerships.